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Projects & Initiatives

Kacy Redd, Ph.D.
Associate Vice President, Research & STEM Education


Public Access to Research Data

APLU Impact

  • APLU and the Association of American Universities (AAU) produced a report in 2017 with recommendations for the federal government and research university community to increase public access to research data. 
  • The two associations hosted a national Summit on February 20-21, 2020 in Washington, DC with support from the  National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. To learn more about the National Summit on Public Access, click here. A second Summit is tentatively scheduled for spring 2021.
  • The Summits build on the progress made at the October 2018 workshop. Read the Workshop Report here.
  • The two associations have convened a steering committee to develop a national strategic plan for public access of data. 
  • APLU joined the Association of Research Libraries, the California Digital Library, and the Association of American Universities in convening a conference  in 2019 and releasing a report with recommendations for data practices supporting an open research ecosystem. 

Public access to data used in federally funded research in peer-reviewed journals is essential for rigorous science, discovery, and the reproducibility of research. Public universities are committed to sharing the results of their research whenever possible.  

APLU and AAU formed a working group on public access examining how to improve public access to data resulting from federally funded research. In 2017, the group issued a report with a series of recommendations to federal agencies aiming to increase public access to data. The report also provided guidance to public universities on how to increase public access to their research.  

In 2013, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a memo directing federal agencies with more than $100 million in annual research spending to make the results of federally funded research available.  

Not all results from federal research is subject to this disclosure. Sharing the results of classified federal research, for example, is strictly prohibited under federal law. Other limits such as so-called export controls limit what raw data, research results, and expertise researchers can share. Still other research, such as some social science, cannot be shared publicly because of privacy concerns.  APLU has developed a robust policy framework for ensuring the security and integrity of research on campus. This includes protecting intellectual property and taking proactive steps to prevent undue foreign influence on research.  

In 2018, APLU and AAU led a National Science Foundation-funded workshop (NSF #1837847) helping institutions develop strategic plans for making data resulting from federally funded research publicly available. The workshop provided a venue for learning, sharing, and planning to support research universities as they implement systems for public access to research data. The two associations issued a report chronicling learning from the workshop. The report highlights three elements from university action plans developed at the workshop: 

  • Updating each participating school’s campus data policy to support research data sharing;
  • Improving graduate student and faculty training on data management; and
  • Engaging in communication and outreach to increase awareness of existing resources in the research community.

With support from the National Science Foundation (NSF # 1939279), AAU and APLU are leading two national Summits in 2020 to Accelerate Public Access to Research Data Initiative to help institutions develop and implement policies and practices to advance public access to research data. The initiative will generate a Guide to Accelerating Public Access to Research Data and a strategic plan for APLU and AAU to support member institutions in this work. 

This material is based upon work supported by the National Science Foundation under Grant No. (1837847 and 1939279). Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.

  • How to Get Involved
  • Draft Timeline

    October 2019 -February 2020

    • Convene a National Summit on Public Access to Research Data of more than 100 AAU/APLU campuses to raise awareness and understanding of the importance, value and necessity of public access to research data and develop a preliminary framework of the Guide.
    • Develop a Strategic Plan Framework to Accelerate Public Access that includes goals, strategies, and actions for AAU and APLU to help its member institutions ensure the public access to research data.
    • Award travel funding for site visits between institutions.

    March 2020 – August 2020

    • Convene Issue Working Groups and 2nd National Summit on Public Access to Research Data. Working groups will seek consensus on a select number of complex, high-priority issues needed to accelerate public access to research data. The 2nd National Summit will review and incorporate the working groups’ recommendations into the final framework of the Guide and Strategic Plan.

    September 2020 -March 2021

    • Finalize Guide and Implement Dissemination and Communication Strategy. APLU and AAU will present the Guide and discuss implementation issues within the APLU and AAU membership and across key stakeholder communities, including Federal agencies, scientific societies, funders, publishers, data repositories, training and data science organizations, data access/FAIR data organizations and others.